Will Wade knew LSU needed to hit the transfer portal hard. It's just part of the deal that comes through losing four veteran players from an NCAA tournament team.
The roster's future was very much up in the air after that loss in the Round of 32 to Michigan but Wade and his staff sat back and watched as players around the country entered the portal from all over the country. Guards Adam Miller and Xavier Pinson as well as forward Tari Eason were the players the program attacked from the jump because of their fits with what the Tigers had lost in Javonte Smart, Cam Thomas, Trendon Watford and Darius Days.
When hitting the transfer portal, Wade and his staff are obviously looking for players who can come in and contribute right away but there's an extra element there as well. Whether it's Daryl Edwards and Marlon Taylor from a couple of seasons ago, Charles Manning in 2019 or Josh Leblanc in 2020, these players have provided a level of toughness and college basketball grit that the LSU program needed during those seasons.
Because these players have been a part of a winning program, Wade is looking for that leadership aspect as well with only a handful of LSU's roster being returning players.
"Somebody like Adam Miller we look to for some major leadership, he's been a part of a winning program, been a part of a winning team," Wade said. "He's got some really good leadership qualities so that's something we looked at from a leadership standpoint. Pinson is the same way, he's been through the SEC battles and somebody that has some SEC experience."
For a player like Pinson, having that SEC experience at Missouri will certainly be a benefit for the Tigers come this fall. Missouri was one of the top teams in the country before a late season dip had them barely slip into the NCAA tournament.
Nevertheless, he's seen many of the top returning players in the country after playing a prominent role with Missouri a season ago, averaging 13.6 points per game. These players are expected to arrive in Baton Rouge on May 24 to start summer school and work outs, while also getting to know one another. Miller and Pinson will be integral parts of getting this team to gel quickly.
"You're looking for guys who have been through it and it's like coach [Bill] Armstrong my assistant said, Pinson's been through the day to day SEC season, everything that goes with how tough it can be. Miller and Tari have certainly been through that in the Big 10 and the American," Wade said.
Miller, Pinson and Eason will provide scoring, playmaking and defensive intensity but more importantly leadership this team that brings in a number of freshmen will need next season.